Sports is considered the purest as well as the most innocent human endeavour. The chances of bad faith actors utilising it for nefarious gains are extremely less. Despite that, the domain is losing to religious fanatics. During the FIFA World Cup, a conversion drive has galloped the enthusiasm around it.
Islamic conversion during FIFA World cup
According to various reports, scores of people have converted to Islam during this FIFA world cup. The phenomenon first came to the limelight when on November 22, a terror sympathiser named Majid Freeman shared a video of a Mexican fan converting to Islam. He also informed through his sources that more than 500 people had already converted to the sect by the time of his tweet.
Allahu Akbar! We’ve heard from local daees in #Qatar2022 that 500+ people have embraced Islam recently. Here’s a Mexican 🇲🇽 fan who took his shahada❤️
Thousands of fans from around the 🌍 are there. May they get an opportunity to see the beauty of Islam & may Allah guide them 🤲🏻 pic.twitter.com/cvgU531MYT
— Majid Freeman (@Majstar7) November 22, 2022
The very next day, Ariana News, one of the few news channels left in Taliban controlled Afghanistan posted a video of a Brazilian family converting to Islam. The preacher helping them recite the testimony of faith was in a way amalgamating the ideas of Christianity and Islam.
یک خانواده برازیلی که برای تشویق تیم فوتبال این کشور در جام جهانی در دوحه بسر میبرد، به دین اسلام مشرف شد.
A Brazilian family converts to Islam during the World Cup in Qatar.#ArianaNews #FIFAWorldCup #Qatar2022 #Brazil #Islam pic.twitter.com/MPImXMJH0i
— Ariana News (@ArianaNews_) November 23, 2022
Various other Twitter handles were seen updating about the number of new converts during the World Cup.
No one is sure about these numbers. And given the state of control on media by Gulf nations, we will never know the exact numbers. However, efforts are in full swing to convert a majority of the 1.5 million foreign football fans.
Also read: World’s first Halal FIFA World Cup is here
The subtle art of spreading religion
Katara Cultural village Masjid is at the centre of this controversy. The administration has recruited both male and female preachers to cater to different sections of the population. These preachers speak Arabic, English and many other languages.
They invite people to come to Masjid and learn about the teachings of Islam.
The word ‘Islam’ has been written in 30 languages on electronic boards of this Masjid. Tourists are handed out a book describing the Introduction of Islam in different languages.
Ironically, the country which banned LGBTQs, drinking and western type of clothes during the world cup is teaching these fans about the tolerance imbibed in Islam.
For those who do not visit Masjids, Qatar has made some alternate arrangements as well. Fans can learn about Islam sitting in their hotel rooms. They just have to scan a QR code to receive a plethora of Islamic teachings and hadiths (words, works, and habits of Prophet Mohammed) available at their fingertips.
In hotel rooms in Qatar, there is a QR code that introduces the teachings of Islam, hadiths, and a simple definition of our faith. pic.twitter.com/NcHge7L48x
— Economy.pk (@pk_economy) November 21, 2022
Outside these hotel rooms and stadiums, Qatar’s Ministry of Akaf and Islamic Affairs is also erecting temporary tents to preach about Islam. When fans leave these tents, the walls of Qatar welcome them with statements and teachings of Prophet Muhammad. In other words, there is no escape from the teachings of Islam if you are a foreign Football fan in Qatar.
At one point, it seemed as if they were going overt with their agenda. When the world cup kicked off, news of radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik reaching Qatar had jolted several nations. India was also one of them as Naik is wanted in India and his Peace TV is banned in the nation. India strongly objected to the news and Qatari authorities jumped in to clarify that he was not officially invited to the tournament.
World cup-A tool for spreading religion
It looks as if the FIFA world cup has lost its trajectory. When Qatar was declared as host, FIFA had compromised on several issues to make it possible. For the first time in history, the schedule was shifted to Qatari winter in order to protect players from 50 degree heat.
Additionally, FIFA also risked its legitimacy as the values of the majority of football fans are not in line with those of Qataris. Unfortunately, over the last one week or so, the tournament has been more in the news for non-sporting reasons.
The phenomenon is borderline insane. It can springboard into an acrobatic display of inhuman posturing in the name of humanity. It is up to the sporting bodies to decide whether their sport would remain free or become a tool of political and religious propaganda.
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